Theoretical modeling of chemical equilibrium in weak polyelectrolyte layers on curved nanosystems

Estefania Gonzalez Solveyra, Rikkert J. Nap, Kai Huang, Igal Szleifer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Surface functionalization with end-tethered weak polyelectrolytes (PE) is a versatile way to modify and control surface properties, given their ability to alter their degree of charge depending on external cues like pH and salt concentration. Weak PEs find usage in a wide range of applications, from colloidal stabilization, lubrication, adhesion, wetting to biomedical applications such as drug delivery and theranostics applications. They are also ubiquitous in many biological systems. Here, we present an overview of some of the main theoretical methods that we consider key in the field of weak PE at interfaces. Several applications involving engineered nanoparticles, synthetic and biological nanopores, as well as biological macromolecules are discussed to illustrate the salient features of systems involving weak PE near an interface or under (nano)confinement. The key feature is that by confining weak PEs near an interface the degree of charge is different from what would be expected in solution. This is the result of the strong coupling between structural organization of weak PE and its chemical state. The responsiveness of engineered and biological nanomaterials comprising weak PE combined with an adequate level of modeling can provide the keys to a rational design of smart nanosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2282
Pages (from-to)1-42
Number of pages42
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Charge regulation
  • Chemical equilibrium
  • End-tethered weak polyelectrolytes
  • PH-related processes
  • Theoretical methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Polymers and Plastics


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